Two Poems || Grant Hier

Grant Hier


The Difference Between Entropy and Evaporation

“A process is spontaneous if it occurs when it is left to itself in a universe…”
— York University, Teaching Chemistry

After the thunder, after the pouring,
after the sun and the warming,
the rain lifts itself back up
through its past.

The log collapses in the hearth,
the ash plume rising
in the place
of the old fire.

The bird in migration returns
through stilled eddies of ghost wing —
a mirrored image
of its younger self.

The pile of dirt dug from the garden
displaces the sky
in the same shape as the hole
in the earth beside.

Ancestors echo themselves
back alive through our gestures,
through scripted codes
unseen within us.

But first the kiss:

In the chilled air of morning, one bell
splashes awake, vibrates waves
up and down its shell
in pulses —

a blossom of tones
like colors,
like smoke,
like breath released

into another’s mouth
in a whisper or moan —
a sharing of molecules, of sky
both inside and out.

Continuous change
brings irreversible paths
as heated prayers transform night,
but no bonds broken


as the sun
through the shade
casts the shadow
of the lamp

up the wall
as the day slides down,
our molecules warm
the cooling room

and you in your dressing
gown undressing —
a change of state,
a type of escape.


The Difference Between the Thread of the Current and the Present

The thread of the current, the mathematical line of the greatest rapidity…exceeds…the average speed of the river…sometimes on the surface of the river, sometimes a few feet below…Forming, so to speak, a river in the middle of a river…perceptibly higher.
—from The earth and its inhabitants. The universal geography. by Élisée Reclus, 1876

fil du courant: A Cajun French term meaning “thread of the current”…The fil is often visible as a glassy-smooth pathway through the otherwise ripping water.
—from Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, 2006

That the Earth attracts all things near it nearer,
compels us equally. It seems that way. That
even in the path of least resistance things will delay
and resist, like pooling wells in lightning and water. Even

within the tension bides a quiet resolution, eventual
release. That entropy seems a law within
every realm imagined or observed, and still,
we see a tendency in each gesture, in every

being, to shine order, as to remind. This too: That opposites,
even the whole of us, can be reflected in one being,
in one thing. The river stone, for instance—still
and smooth beneath the stream, glistening in

the sun just now, and how it matches your laugh, the sky
reflected in it somehow, both the weight and the freedom, the
clear path shining in the midst of movement. As the current
bulges and time thickens in my chest, your eyes as clear

as the depths here, but deeper. Like grief’s erosion, how
the stone exposed shows new colors as parts lift away. How as
long as the core remains we hold on to order, even with gravity
insisting on return, the leveling at the mouth. We resist, but a long

run of continuous change is the thread followed down this
temporary present, the gift that keeps things new. Young rivers run
the fastest, past steeper slopes, the course straighter for such speed,
the river becoming part of the ground it penetrates, and the

exchange spontaneous as what has been displaced now becomes
river in a weaving of elements, a song of valence, the change
of landscape gradual, the trees creaking as they sway, the wind
sliced by Aeolian harps of branches and needles, now part of

the chorus recalling the sound of the sea far downstream, awaiting
past the slower shallows, the winding down of current time as the
old river widens and quiets and meanders to its end. Just as
this day winds down and long shadows soften, the cold

progressing in increments until we finally notice through our
shivering, and I take off my coat and you slide it on, smiling, dressing
in the warmth of this gift, the heat transferred, and new faces as
we step from stone to stone to the other side, slower now, in

even steps, in tandem. And along with my outstretched hand I can offer you this:
That even as the stones become undone beneath us, even now
as the darkness progresses, I promise I will hold the light you emit now,
now without even realizing it, even when this crossing is done. Know

I have found it behind you, too, in the flashing water, the bits of sun
carried back to me, even as parts of us are leaving. Even as I
write, “whichever of us leaves first,” know this: That some things
will reach across to balance—the river’s lesson returned in light.



Provenence: Invited submission.


Grant Hier was named recipient of Prize Americana for his book Untended Garden (The Poetry Press, 2015), which was also nominated for both an American Book Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award.  He was the winner of the Nancy Dew Taylor Prize for Literary Excellence in Poetry (2014) and the Kick Prize for poetry (2013). Several of his pieces have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been anthologized in Orange County: A Literary Field Guide (Heyday, 2017), Only Light Can Do That (Rattling Wall / PEN Cener USA, 2016), Monster Verse — Human and Inhuman Poems (Knopf / Everyman, 2015). Three fiction pieces were included in LA Fiction Anthology: Southland Stories by Southland Writers (Red Hen Press, 2016). His poems have been widely published internationally, including in Emrys Journal, Dallas Review, Poetry Digest, Poets Against the War, Zócalo Public Square, Review Americana, Blue Fifth Review Quarterly, WTCRemembrances, Pearl, Poetry/ LA ,Chiron Review, Orange County Review, Orange Coast Review, RipRap, Re)verb, Slipstream,City  Dialogues, Tandava, Faith, Stymie, Word Riot, and others. Grant earned his BA in English at California State University at Fullerton, and both an MA in Literature and MFA in Creative Writing Poetry at California State University at Long Beach. For more than a decade he served as Chair of Liberal Arts and Art History and Faculty Senate President at Laguna College of Art + Design where he remains as Full Professor, teaching courses in Creative Writing, Literature, Critical Reasoning, and Senior Capstone.

Featured Image: _DSC2084 by Ricardo Mangual Photography is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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